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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
May 2, 2001
Letter from Judge Gonzales to Senators Regarding Judicial Nomination Process
May 2, 2001
I write in response to your letter of April 27, 2001. We agree on the importance of judicial nominations and the need for the Administration and the Senate to work together constructively to ensure the smooth confirmation of federal judges. Although the Constitution entrusts to the President alone the power to propose nominees, we believe that pre-nomination consultation between the Administration and the home state Senators, regardless of party, will facilitate this process.
Indeed, as some of you are aware, we have already engaged in the sort of process that your letter encourages. We have had numerous discussions with home state Democratic and Republican Senators regarding process and existing vacancies. In most cases, we have shared the names of individuals under consideration for federal judicial appointment with home state Senators at least a month prior to the earliest conceivable date for a nomination. In several cases, our consultation has included face-to-face meetings with the home state Senators. A number of additional such meetings are scheduled to take place in coming days. We have taken the Senators' reactions to potential nominees very seriously, and we will continue to do so. In sum, I am very pleased that our practices with respect to the current group of vacancies we have been working on so closely mirror what you have proposed for the vacancies we will address in the future.
I have also recognized the special responsibility each of you, as members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, bears in this process. Thus, I have met personally with all but two of you in recent weeks and am attempting to schedule appointments with those of you who were unavailable. The primary purpose of these meetings -- aside from affording us an opportunity to become better acquainted -- is to exchange views regarding the nomination process.
Under the circumstances, we generally agree with your specific suggestions for keeping home state Senators informed and seeking their advice. Allowing for the possibility that there may be specific instances in which strict adherence to every procedure described in your letter is infeasible or inadvisable, and allowing for more specific agreements regarding district court nominees as you suggest, we will endeavor in good faith to respect the suggestions set forth in your letter as we work on additional vacancies in the future. In all cases, you may be certain that we will work hard to ensure that home state Senators will have a suitable opportunity to express their views concerning possible nominees well in advance of nomination. In return, we expect that the names of potential nominees will be kept in confidence by the Senators consulted so as to avoid the possibility of undue embarrassment to potential nominees who, after consultation, are not nominated.
In closing, I wish to thank you for taking the time to communicate your views to me. It is my hope that as we move forward our efforts to follow the suggestions in your letter will help to ensure the Senate's fair-minded and expeditious consideration of the President's judicial nominees on their merits. As your letter reflects, the purpose of advance consultation is to ensure that the President's nominees receive prompt hearings before your committee and by the Senate as a whole. The President will select his judicial nominees based upon their character, integrity, fairness, experience, and intellect. We trust that the Senate will evaluate them on the same standards.
Alberto R. Gonzales
Counsel to the President
The Honorable Patrick J. Leahy
The Honorable Edward M. Kennedy
The Honorable Joseph R. Biden
The Honorable Herb Kohl
The Honorable Dianne Feinstein
The Honorable Russell D. Feingold
The Honorable Charles E. Schumer
The Honorable Richard J. Durbin
The Honorable Maria Cantwell
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510